The Comox Valley Vipers U14 boys soccer team was in Penticton from July 7-10 for the Provincial Championships.
Last year the Vipers made it to the Provincials only to have the cup snatched from them by the Penticton Pinnacles by goals against. This year the Vipers went to Penticton and took the cup back, to the Comox Valley where it belongs, a team spokesperson said.
Their journey began right after last year’s provincials where they had to settle for bronze. To a player, they vowed to work hard, be committed and make sure they got back to the Provincials for another chance at victory.
Like a shark smelling blood the Vipers opened the season in September with only that objective on their mind. Having reached their first goal of making the Provincials, the first game of the event was a little shaky as the Vipers were outplayed by the Nelson Selects for the first 15 minutes.
Shortly thereafter the Vipers settled down and began to play their possession game with great ball movement from the midfield of Cole Freeman, Nicolas Xylinas, Nick Chang and Dhruval Shah. From this point on it was all Vipers as they cruised to a 4-1 victory.
The second game was going to be the crucial part of the tournament as the Vipers were up against the current Coastal Cup champions Point Grey. The Vipers knew that a win would give them the chance they wanted for the gold and a loss would make the road a lot tougher.
The game started as expected with tremendous speed and intensity as both teams tried to establish their game. Unfortunately for the Vipers a Point Grey through ball made its way onto the foot of a streaking forward who found the back of the net. Being down 1-0 early was not something the Vipers were used to and it took a team wake-up call to get the boys going.
Just before the half a ball was played to Grayson Chalifoux who dribbled around two defenders before calmly shooting the ball into the corner of the net. In the second half a scramble in front of the Point Grey net saw a loose ball drop in front of the hard working Dylan Coburn who buried it into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.
With the Viper parents cheering loud and the exceptional flank play of Nathaniel Johnson and William Patrick Blouin-Comeau the Vipers took a 3-1 lead with Point Grey getting a late one to finish up 3-2.
The third game was a mean-nothing game for the Vipers as they had locked up first place and were already playing for gold on Sunday. The game however meant a lot to their opponents, the West Van Spuraways, who were trying to get themselves into the bronze medal game. The game started fast and furious as expected and had a little bit of an attitude to it as West Van was determined in their play.
With a little breakdown in the Viper end and a little luck a loose ball fell to a West Van player who slotted it into the net. With Alex Stevens and Dylan Coburn working extremely hard up front to get the equalizer the game started to get a little chippy as the verbal assaults began to fly. As the Viper team got more and more involved in the verbal game it was time for the Viper coaches Carey Cordocedo, Zack Chang and Stacy Gastis to refocus the boys and remind them why they were there, to represent the Comox Valley.
With the Vipers pressing to score they unfortunately ran out of time and were on the losing end of a 1-0 game. With the round robin behind them, all that was left was the gold medal match on Sunday. With much anticipation and nervous energy the Vipers took the field for the last time as a team, with next year some will be playing in the new VIPL league and some moving on to other adventures.
As the game started it was obvious the Vipers were ready to play and last year’s result was still fresh in their minds. Ten minutes into the game the Vipers received a free kick about 35 yards out where Travis Brown sent a lovely cross onto the head of a streaking Michael Girard who flicked the ball over the Prince George keeper for the 1-0 lead.
About 10 minutes later Dhruval Shah sent the ball out wide to Dereck Mellish who used his speed to beat the Prince George defender and cross the ball across the box which ended up on the foot of Grayson Chalifoux on the edge of the box who drove a right-footer into the lower left corner for a 2-0 lead.
In the second half with the Vipers in their defensive containing formation and Prince George pressing, the back line of Riley McHechnie, Ben Gastis and Ben Watson were shutting the door and anything that did get through was masterfully cleaned up by the incredible goaltending of Joshua Dielman.
After the final whistle blew and the players cheered and jumped up and down with pure joy it was evident at that moment that all the hard work and dedication by them had finally paid off. Shortly after the hugs and kisses from players to parents and the trophy presentation it was time for the coach Cordocedo to keep his promise which was to lose his moustache after 25 years.
With a clean-shaven coach and celebrations coming to an end it was time to say goodbye to some of the close bonds over the past three years. The coaches would like to thank the parents for having such great children and the players for all their hard work, dedication and the joy that they brought this past season,” the team spokesperson said.
“The Vipers would also like to sincerely thank Team Manager Tina Stevens for all her hard work and dedication to the team … awesome job. They would also like to thank the fundraising comittee of Deidre Marok, Lisa Brown, Andrea Chalifoux and Tina Stevens…well done,” said coach Cordocedo.
– Comox Valley Vipers